A CLOSE SHAVE
BY GRAY DOURMAN
The surface was true. There was no distortion in the reflection. The hazel eyes stared back with lifeless detachment. The facsimile was perfect in every way. Yet. Yet there was something missing. Devoid of motive, the image was passive. It looked and mimiced with utter veracity but had no life of its own.
There was no flinching when the badger brush applied the scalding, hot soap to the chin. No red blood seeped from the pocked skin as the forge hardened steel scraped its way down the hollow cheeks. The reflection was obedient. It was tame.
A glint of candlelight bounced from the edge of its startled eye when the wind howled its mournful ballad beyond the frozen window where the breath of winter had etched its intricate embroidery on the foggy glass.
Beyond the window the sky crackled with undulating curtains of green and purple. Beyond the window the endless, pine wilderness waited upon a dawn that would not come for many hours. Beyond the window the clockwork stars cartwheeled above the the frozen crust of snow. Yet the visage in the mirror gazed back upon its origin with patience and anticipation, awaiting the next stoke of cold metal against its neck.
As the Sheffield razor scraped the stubble from its face, the counterfeit illusion guided the operating hand with precision and did not blink or hesitate as the tough follicles fought to hold on to emerging whiskers.
Then as suddenly as it appeared, the image was gone.
When it reappeared, there was no white lather upon its cheeks, but water dripped from its beaked nose and slack, rose tinted lips. A quick tongue licked crooked teeth as a boney hand came up to smooth the shaggy eyebrows.
With a sudden gust of breath, the candle was snuffed and the image evaporated.
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